Takeaway quotes from the Drew & Scott interview with Masai Ujiri

Yesterday, Drew Goodman and Scott Hastings of Drew & Scott on Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan had an extensive interview with Nuggets executive Masai Ujiri, who was in Houston, where JaVale McGee is currently training with Hakeem Olajuwon. (On Twitter, please follow Drew here: @ROOTSPORTS_DG, and Scott here: @ScottHastings). They talked about the Andre Iguodala trade and The Dream’s work with McGee and Kenneth Faried.

Before reading further, please be sure to listen to their original broadcast here, as the transcribed quotes below are  only a fraction of of their discussion, and of course in writing much of the personal feel of the conveersation is lost. That said, in addition to listening to the interview, it does seem worthwhile to see some of what Ujiri said in writing, as he conveyed a lot of information rather quickly, and much of it is worth a closer look.

Excerpts from Ujiri’s answers* in the interview are after the jump: (more…)

How JaVale McGee’s game changed after the trade, and what that may bode for his future

Sometimes, the grass really is greener.

When JaVale McGee was traded to the Denver Nuggets mid-season, the opportunity to escape from the highly dysfunctional atmosphere of the Washington Wizards organization and make a new start must truly have been a breath of fresh air.

One hardly need look further than former Wizards beat writer Jay Glassie’s scathing takedown of Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to understand just how toxic the organizational environment was in Washington. Glassie, who actually quit covering the Wizards because he had gotten so fed up, goes into great detail explaining what he call the “incredible losing culture” of that organization. Many NBA fans are familiar with the headline-making incidents from that time period, most infamously when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton reportedly pulled guns on each other in the locker room in December 2009, but behavioral and PR issues weren’t the only problems going on there. Those seeped deeply into basketball territory as well.

And for a young, raw, immature player in need of structure, discipline and veteran leadership, this clearly was infertile soil to be rooted in. McGee at one point asked Grunfeld “for a big man coach, and Grunfeld said he could have one if he paid for it himself”. It’s stunning that Washington would spurn cultivating one their most prized young assets, turning their backs on the opportunity to develop his game and facilitate his ambition to improve.

In vivid contrast, the Nuggets have (more…)

The current New York state of mind

After last week’s historic battle with the New York Knicks that saw countless Nuggets and Knicks players face their former team for the first time since what we’re now referring to as “the Danillo Gallinari trade,” we caught up with John Kenney to answer some questions. Kenney is a contributor for the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate blog of the New York Knicks, KnickerBlogger.net and has a Twitter handle for you to follow @JohnbKenney.

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The other side of the coin

Yesterday my wonderful colleague Jeremy detailed the Nuggets 2011-12 season outlook in a post titled, How Good Can the Denver Nuggets Be? In it he expressed his concern over how this year’s team would play without a “chip” on its shoulder, without enough good defensive players in addition to how the Nuggets would be affected by losing Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to the Chinese Basketball Association. In the end Jeremy stated, “For Nuggets fans who could not stomach the thought of rebuilding, you got your wish. They will be a playoff team for the foreseeable future, but I fear that is all they will be.” Though this may be true, I’m here to tell you why that may not be such a bad thing after all.  (more…)

Nuggets News: Post-lockout edition

Early Saturday morning news broke that the NBA lockout has finally concluded after 149 days of fierce negotiations. Though the deal has yet to be finalized, a “handshake” agreement is said to have been reached between the owners and players. All signs are pointing towards a season starting Christmas Day, with training camps and free agency beginning as soon as Dec. 9. Between now and the Nuggets first game of the 2011-12 season, which will likely be at Utah on Dec. 26, we’ll be covering a lot of material, but before we begin our analysis, here are some links to help get you acclimated with the new CBA and how it affects your favorite basketball team. (more…)

Breaking down ESPN’s #NBArank of the Denver Nuggets: Part 1

ESPN recently concluded an extremely arduous process of codifying the NBA’s best 500 players. Our fellow TrueHoop family was highly involved in the process, sending in ballots, backing up their claims in the 5-on-5 series and explaining how certain elements weighed more heavily in their decision-making via video interviews which aired on the front page of the four-letter network’s website this past week. From our perspective — being a proud member of the TrueHoop Network — we feel entitled to give a Carmelo Anthony-like tip-of-the-hat to ourselves for all of our efforts, as ranking 500 different players is not an easy task; however, we conversely feel that it is our job to specifically analyze those players we know best, and determine if their individual Top 500 rankings are accurate in order to further understand how we can get better for next year. Including current free agents, the Denver Nuggets saw a whopping 16 players make their way to the #NBArank list. Whether they managed to land in the right spot is up for debate. In Part 1 of this series we’ll take a look at the Nuggets who landed outside of the Top 100. (more…)

Nuggets News 7.0

After a fairly lengthy hiatus, Nuggets News is back. In our most recent installment, Kenneth Faried continues to operate in Beast Mode, Kenyon Martin wants “haters” to contract sexually transmitted diseases and Danilo Gallinari shows why he’ll never be invited to participate on Dancing with the Stars(more…)

Encore to a Basketball Renaissance

With the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs already underway and the Nuggets opening series against the Thunder not far behind, it’s time to look back, forward and all around at the season that has been and the playoff season that might be. (more…)